A few of my grumpy friends have been muttering about Valentine's Day ... not a real holiday, retail promotion, expensive, ridiculous ... you get the picture. This is what happens when the bulk of your friends pass 40. Sigh.
Naturally, you know how I feel. Every day is the perfect day to express your love. Valentine's Day is simply a reminder. And there's no need to spend money. Write your own Valentine! Not sure where to begin? Start here:
Put pen to paper.
If you wake up on Monday and realize it's Valentine's Day and you're not going to see your loved ones and you absolutely, positively have to send an email, well. OK. Other than that, pen to paper.
Use pretty paper. Or, decorate plain paper.
Fold it into a heart shape -- it doesn't need to be perfect. If you're writing on white paper, use red ink. Handmade Valentines don't have to be a huge creative endeavor with heart-shaped cutouts and special glue and archival stickers. Little things show you care.
Jazz up the salutation.
Instead of Dear Kate, make it Dear wonderful Kate. Dear funny Kate. Dear best-first-daughter-in-the-world Kate. If your Valentine has a nickname, use that. Instead of Dear Mary, make it Dear Mary Moo. If it's more special to use their full name, do that. Dear Mary Nell. (If that sounds like the name you only use when you're yelling at the person, don't do that.) And, yes, it's OK to replicate: Dear best-baby-daughter-in-the-world Mary.
Start with a word more unusual than Dear.
Let them know right from the start that this is special. Beloved is a gorgeous, ancient word. It would be a beautiful salutation all by itself.
Make your Valentines specific.
Instead of a generic I love you. Happy Valentine's Day! give them something to treasure. Think of what they value in themselves. I love the way you always take care of your friends and make them feel special. I see the woman you are becoming and I am so proud. Think of what they're insecure about. I know you're worried about (blank) and, on this Valentine's Day, I want you to know I believe in you, I have faith in you and I support you.
Don't start every sentence with "I."
Oddly enough, this is not about you. It's about your Valentine. You work so hard for the family and always put our needs first. Thank you for being such a supportive husband and father!
Enclose a surprise.
A photo of you and your Valentine. A coupon for a date night, with the date and place spelled out. A vintage Valentine. Or, attach the Valentine to something special. A plate of scones. Or cookies. Or brownies. Or chocolate. A good bottle of wine. Mmmmm.
Make the sign-off sing.
I remain your adoring (whatever) ... With love and gratitude ... with all my love and all my heart ... thank you for today and here's to tomorrow!
Gals, put on the red lipstick and smack that envelope. Guys, if you don't want to do the lipstick, you can always write SWAK. Or SWALCAKWS. (Bonus Valentine points from me if you know what that means.)
Deliver your Valentine with love.
Hand the Valentines to your Valentines. Make eye-to-eye contact. Whoa. Listen to them. And give them a good, strong, long hug -- nothing like a hug to make you feel loved!
I hope Valentine's Day makes you happy -- and that you spend it making other people happy. Even if you're typically grumpy. And over 40.
Thanks to Leslie, one of my favorite Valentines, for the photos!